Miscarriage

This is the hardest thing to talk about but NOT talking about it would be even harder. I know a lot of women choose to keep their pregnancy journeys and losses private or within only their close circles and I fully respect that. It’s a tough and intimate topic to talk about. But I need to get this off my chest.

Yesterday, you might have seen on Instagram stories that I posted about going through a miscarriage. I didn’t share much on there but I said that I felt like I needed to write and talk about it. If you know me personally, you’d know that I’m not one to bottle up my feelings and emotions. I need to talk. I need to share. I need to have REAL conversations about life and all it’s ups and downs.

I’m not going to start at the beginning (maybe I’ll save that for another post), but I’m going to skip to the end. For now, I just want to get my most raw thoughts and feelings down as well as tell you a few key details. It’s all I can manage just now.

The story ends tomorrow. Tomorrow I will be having a procedure to remove my pregnancy. I’ll be 9 weeks and 6 days pregnant. Our baby stopped growing a few weeks ago but my body hasn’t realised there’s anything wrong yet. It still thinks I’m pregnant and hasn’t miscarried on its own. They call it a ‘missed miscarriage’. We’re devastated, confused but also relieved that by this time tomorrow it will all be over and there will be no more waiting.

To cut a long story short, we’d had a few ultrasounds and the baby was always measuring smaller than what it should. These scans should have detected a heartbeat but we never found one. We were told to wait a few weeks then come back as it could have been too early to accurately measure. Our scan last Monday was where it all became ominous. The technician was silent the entire time and wouldn’t tell us a thing. When we pressed him, he said we would have to wait for the doctor’s report. I didn’t have a good feeling about this but I chose instead to feel frustrated. Why couldn’t he tell us anything? Was it because he seemed young and perhaps inexperienced? Surely. Surely it was that.

On the day of our move on Wednesday, my doctor called me. She had received the report and asked us to come in for an appointment. She said there should have been a heartbeat by now but nothing had been detected, that it wasn’t a positive scan. She asked that Ben come too so we could discuss ‘the next steps’. Hearing those words, standing in our empty kitchen of our old apartment was when we fell apart.

At our doctor’s appointment at 9am the following morning. My GP went through the radiologist’s report, which coldly stated that the pregnancy was ‘non-viable’. Everything was too small, the gestational sac and the baby. I should have been about 9 weeks but the baby was measuring closer to 6. No heartbeat was found. It was a missed miscarriage.

We were booked into the E.P.A.S. (Early Pregnancy Assessment Service) at the Royal Women’s Hospital here in Melbourne at 11am the following day (Thursday). There, the doctors would review my reports, do other testing and make the final call about what would happen from there. I was grateful to be able to get in so soon.

Arriving at this clinic at the hospital, I realised immediately that this is not a happy place to be. This is the place you come when things are wrong. Various couples came and went from the waiting room. None looked happy. One woman came out of her appointment, promptly burst into tears and locked herself in the bathroom. We are here, I thought. This is our new reality.

We had a consult with one of the nurses who told us that a doctor had reviewed our scan reports and had said that we might not be able to get an answer today. Usually they wait at least a week between scans which meant they should wait until Monday. But, if we wanted to, we could still do a scan because, depending on what they could see, they could possibly still call it. We were so eager to get answers that of course we wanted to do the scan that day.

The doctor who did our scan was lovely; gentle and reassuring but also direct. She said that they must be 101% sure before they diagnose a miscarriage and sometimes early scans can be inaccurate. She would do her own scan, compare it to my previous ones and see what she could determine. By this point, I had resigned myself to the fact that I’d miscarried. I wasn’t expecting any other news. I wasn’t hopeful. I wasn’t anxious. I was just looking for confirmation.

This scan was different to our past ones in that the doctor described everything as she went. There was no vagueness or hesitation on her behalf, which we were grateful for. We didn’t have to wait for the images to be reviewed or for a report from someone else. She took us through exactly what she saw every step of the way.

Once she found the embryo and measured it, she said, ‘Okay. I’m prepared to call it. It’s a miscarriage’. In that moment I wasn’t shattered (that had come days before). I was just relieved to know for sure. She said that the rate of growth that they are looking for is 1mm per day plus a heartbeat. When compared to my scan two weeks prior (the one even before Monday’s one), there had been no growth since. It was still very difficult to hear those words but I had been expecting it and so had felt prepared. She was very reassuring and said that it was not my fault, it was nothing I did, but it was just unlucky. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage and it’s just unfortunate. She reminded me that I was still young (31) and was able to get pregnant very easily, which are very positive signs. She also said that everything else looked healthy so there was no reason to worry about the future.

Afterwards, we had a consultation with another nurse who walked us through where to go from there. She said there were three options. We could wait for it to pass naturally without intervention (although it could take weeks for my body to realise). We could take medication to help start the process (although sometimes the effect is unpredictable and incomplete). Or we could opt for a D&C (dilation and curettage), a surgical procedure that removes everything. I can’t imagine waiting weeks for my body to do it’s natural thing (if it even does) and the thought of carrying around a dead baby for much longer is just too traumatic. I booked in for the procedure tomorrow morning. It was the earliest time available since it’s the weekend now.

This weekend has felt like we’re in limbo. We’re waiting, waiting, waiting for it to be over. But it’s strange. It feels like time has both slowed down and sped right up. I am both impatient to get it over with but also dreading it being over. By this time tomorrow I’ll be barren, empty. It will be both a relief and a horrible and unexpected, new reality.

So what am I feeling? So. Many. Things.

Tired because I haven’t been sleeping well and I’ve had nightmares about the procedure and process.

Drained because it’s just so much to take in and accept.

Grief that the future we so happily imagined has been snatched away.

Thankful for all the loving support from our family, friends and, in the last 24 hours, from this community. We feel very lucky as not everyone has this.

Jealous of all the pregnant women and families wheeling prams around our neighbourhood. It feels like the whole world is pregnant or has babies except us. It’s like a punch to the guts every time I leave the house. Today, for example, the one time we left the house, just as I opened the front door, a woman walked directly past holding a newborn. Then, when I left our building, a couple were cooing over their tiny baby in the pram they were wheeling. And then, at the cafe we had lunch at, a pregnant woman strolled past our table on her way to the bathroom. It’s just EVERYWHERE.

Grateful because I was actually able to get pregnant easily in the first place, which I know is not a reality for a lot of women.

Anxious about the procedure tomorrow and how I will feel directly before and after.

Excited for a new, clean start after tomorrow is over.

Scared about going through this again in another pregnancy or not being able to get pregnant again.

Appreciative of Ben and how supportive and tender he’s been. This has hit him just as hard as it’s hit me, yet he’s been such an incredible source of comfort.

Relieved that the trauma of the actual miscarriage will happen quickly when I’m asleep.

Concerned that my body didn’t realise there was a problem with the pregnancy.

Comforted because pregnancy loss and fertility struggles are so unbelievably common. I know I’m not alone.

Emotional as I’m in tears at the drop of a hat.

Impatient that we have to start all over again from the beginning.

Strong because I know, in time, we will get through this.

Hopeful that someone else out there will connect with my story and feel like they’re not alone.

Angry that even though this is common, why did it have to happen to us?

Connected to other women who have gone through a similar thing.

Trustful because we will have our baby in the end, even if it doesn’t happen on our own timeline.

And… frustrated by how little this is talked about. Our social media feeds are filled with pregnancy announcements and news of healthy baby arrivals. But the journey to actually get to that point is often left out. But gosh, it’s an important bit to share. I wish that this wasn’t whispered about behind closed doors. I feel as though the hard parts should be discussed just as much as the happy parts. I know that it isn’t easy to shout these stories from the rooftops but let’s just start sharing more of the whole story. It will help to break the taboo and normalise it a bit more.

It’s been really helpful for me to hear all of your stories about miscarriage (particularly the ones with happy endings). If you feel comfortable sharing, please do. It helps me to know that I’m not alone and I’m sure it will help many others out there too.